Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Leila Alaoui is alive because her spirit is

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I didn’t know Leila Alaoui, the young and talented photographer murdered by Al-Qaeda is Ouagadougou. Not personally. I only knew her work. I was afraid anything I’d write about her would have no soul. So I asked her friend, photographer Thierry Van Biesen to write a few words.

He wrote:
“Leila, my friend.
This morning my mother, who had never met Leila, told me that she felt a connection to her, from what she knew of her, from what she saw in her images.
I am sure there are a lot of people who feel the same connection.
Everyone who is alive, and loves life, is connected to Leila.
Not only to Leila, since most humans don't know her, but to her spirit.
Leila's spirit is one of love, warmth, creation and generosity.
Leila's spirit is curious, open, outgoing and intelligent.
Those who killed her are dead, they have always been dead.
They are just waiting for death to catch up with them.
Leila? She is alive.
Because her spirit is.”

Leila Alaoui “had been on assignment in Burkina Faso for Amnesty International for less than a week, working on a series of photographs focused on women’s rights, says the New York Times. [she] brought a lyrical quality to her work while seeking to avoid easy sentimentality.”

The NYT quotes Aida Alami, journalist and childhood friend: “I saw her before she left for Burkina Faso, and she said, ‘Don’t worry, I have been to more dangerous places’. She was so optimistic, she thought that nothing bad could ever happen to her.”

On her powerful No Pasara series, she wrote on her website: “In reaction to Europe’s policies to tighten its borders, a new terminology emerged in the popular language to express a symbolic resistance to all laws depriving the freedom to migrate. “Hrag” (to burn) and “Harragas” (the burners) have become common codes among a desperate youth willing to sacrifice everything to reach the shores of Europe.
No Pasara captures the lives of young Moroccans, who dream of a better future on the other side of the Mediterranean. The images bear witness to their realities as well as their illusions. In their attempts to burn the border, many end up burning their identities, their past and sometimes their lives."

Leila Alaoui was, and always be, 33. 

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